Always Sunny-Side Up: Everything You Need to Know About Going Solar

It’s a sun-driven craze that’s resulted in 17 times the number of installations that occurred in 2008. That’s right: solar energy is alive and thriving. 

And you want in on the savings. Who wouldn’t? 

Find out everything you need to know about going solar here so you can get the best deals and greatest amounts of energy.  

How Solar Power Works

Solar energy works through solar panels, which are placed on roofs to absorb sunlight. Photovoltaic cells on the panels convert the sunlight into direct current, an electrical current that travels in one direction. 

Unfortunately, direct current isn’t utilized by most household items. That’s where the inverter comes in. 

An inverter converts the direct current into an alternating current that can be used to power electronics and other items in a household. 

Is It Worth It?

Before we go further, we’re sure you have doubts about going solar. Most people do. You should rest easy knowing most homeowners have a full return on investment within 6 to 10 years.

In some areas, homeowners’ solar powered generators pay for themselves in four years. 

On top of a short ROI and the increased savings after that period, solar panels also increase a home’s value and avoid fossil fuels. That means your home is worth more and, all the while, you’re helping planet Earth. 

Solar Power 101: What You Need to Know

So you’ve decided to live off the sun. Now what? Where do you even begin? 

We’ll take you through everything you need to know step by step. 

Check Your Roof’s Compatability

The first order of business is to check that solar power is right for you. Solar panels are ideal for individuals whose roofs receive sunlight, meaning they aren’t blocked by trees or other things throughout the day. 

In addition, avoid placing solar panels on old roofs that need to be replaced, as this will cost additional money in the long run. 

For Americans, the best roofs for solar panels face the south, but roofs that face the east and west work, too.  

Check Your Energy Use

Before even considering lifting your cell phone to contact an installation company, find out how much electricity you use and when you use it. This information will be invaluable in understanding how much electricity your solar panels need to produce each day so that you can live comfortably. 

Ask your utility company to provide usage readings for every half an hour or calculate your daily kilowatt usage by looking at your monthly bill. Keep in mind usage varies throughout the year. 

Compare this usage with your home’s solar energy potential. You can find your address’s potential using interactive maps. Ensure your roof can produce enough electricity for you to live happily.  

Grid-Tie or Off-Grid? 

Next, decide if you would like your system to be grid-tie or off-grid. 

Grid-tied systems store your extra electricity on the grid. Utility companies pay you for the extra electricity. 

Owners can then use these credits to pay for any energy they require from the utility company in a process called net metering. This is useful in winter or for individuals who are active at night when there is no sun for solar energy to work. 

The downside of grid-tie solar is that some states are uncertain if or how they should continue net metering.

Off-grid systems require a battery to store extra electricity, which the owners can use whenever necessary. Keep in mind, however, batteries are expensive.  

Compare Bids

Next, it’s time to reach out to licensed solar panel installers. Call several and compare prices to find the best deals. 

Ensure all potential installers are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Take the time to thoroughly research reviews for each company. 

Make sure all bids provide the system’s total daily production of kilowatts and request estimates of how much it will produce yearly. 

Apply for Tax Credits

Don’t forget to apply for tax credits. 

Although the credits decrease after 2019, they are still available and can help cover installation costs. And don’t fall for the rumors that solar energy is no longer worth the investment because these credits decrease every year; competition and continued growth in the industry have reduced pricing across the US. 

FAQs About Going Solar

Now that you understand the basic steps to go solar, you should also understand a few common questions about the parts of a solar system and other ways to harness the sun’s power. 


In terms of inverters, it’s best to go big. Purchase high-quality inverters. 

The rationality here is that inverters don’t last as long because they work all day every day to transform direct currents to usable ones. Most have a lifespan of about 10 years.

This is one item you should spend extra money on. 


There are a number of panel types on the market. Always research a solar panel’s quality and manufacturer to see how efficient and long-lasting it is. Take into account the weather around your area when shopping.  

Although more expensive panels produce more energy, compare energy production to your usage to see what fits your budget and needs. 

Determine how many panels to purchase by your budget, inverter capacity and roof size. Many individuals recommend purchasing over the number of panels indicated by the inverter capacity. 

Other Solar Options

Keep in mind a solar roof isn’t the only option for going solar. Many items on the market run from the sun’s power, such as the Titan Solar Generator. You can learn more about this efficient product at

Even renters can enjoy the benefits of solar by participating in a shared solar plan. These plans allow citizens to contribute to solar energy and share it among themselves. 

There are even portable solar options. 

The Future Is Sunny

It looks like the future will be sunny side up with lots of new technology soaking up the rays. 

Invest in your future, help the planet and reduce your bills by going solar. Now is the prime time. As the market continues to grow and solar systems continue to become more efficient, prices and ROI increase.  

And to stay up-to-date with all the latest changes and lower those bills, be sure to check out our article about solar financing.  

Who needs electric companies? Certainly not those enjoying the energy from the sun. 

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.